A German citizen was sentenced today to six years in prison for operating a web-based bulletin board for child pornography.
The sentence was announced by Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Postal Inspector in Charge Gary Barksdale of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s (USPIS) Washington, D.C., Division, Postal Inspector in Charge Robert Wemyss of the USPIS Los Angeles Division and Special Agent in Charge Claude Arnold of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) Los Angeles.
Klaus Von Der Heide, 51, of Berlin, pleaded guilty on July 15, 2014, in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of conspiring to promote child pornography, one count of promoting child pornography and one count of transporting child pornography.
According to his plea agreement, from April 2011 through February 2014, Von Der Heide and others conspired to operate Cam-Foundation, a secure web-based bulletin board that traded images of child pornography, mostly in the form of self-produced webcam images. Members could join this group only upon invitation and after approval by the group’s administrators, including Von Der Heide. As of February 2014, 719 members belonged to Cam-Foundation, which was hosted on computer servers under Von Der Heide’s control and located in Germany.
Von Der Heide, as the lead administrator, maintained Cam-Foundation and controlled the design, creation and management of the site, and oversaw its day-to-day operations. Von Der Heide published rules and guidelines regarding membership, posting and accessing images on the site and payment to belong to the site. Von Der Heide solicited fees from Cam-Foundation members to be paid directly to him in order to cover the cost of a new cloud storage system that he controlled. Von Der Heide encouraged Cam-Foundation members to meet him in person within the United States to personally hand him money for Cam-Foundation membership. He traveled to the United States to collect the money and was arrested by federal law enforcement.
The case was investigated by the USPIS Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles Divisions and the HSI Los Angeles in collaboration with the HSI-led Orange County, California, Child Exploitation Task Force. This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Jennifer Toritto Leonardo of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Trial Attorney Darcy Katzin of the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General.